Bill Gates says he loves French economist Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, just not the part where he’d have to pay more in taxes. Piketty confessed that during a conversation with the Microsoft billionaire, Gates said he feels he can spend money better than the government. If only everyone could use that explanation to avoid the IRS.
Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a 700 comprehensive analysis of income inequality, its effects on society, and recommendations for leveling the playing field. Among the recommendations are higher taxes, specifically on capital gains.
That notion did not sit well with Bill Gates, the world’s wealthiest man (although Mexico’s Carlos Slim may have overtaken him). As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Gates wrote a review of the book, packing on praise for the in-depth research. Nevertheless, he made one tiny recommendation: Instead of taxing capital returns — where Gates makes nearly all of his money — tax consumption.
According to Bloomberg, he followed up his review with a conversation with Piketty, one that the French economist described in an economics conference in Boston.
“I had this discussion with Bill Gates a couple of weeks ago. He told me, ‘I love everything that’s in your book, but I don’t want to pay more tax.”
Seems like a fairly common complaint from people the world over. And like most people, Bill Gates has a fairly common reason for not wanting to pay more in taxes, as Piketty explained.
“I think he sincerely believes he’s more efficient than the government, and you know, maybe he is sometimes.”
Gates argued in his review that the wealthy shouldn’t be lumped together for tax purposes. Instead, those people who spend on themselves with consumption should be taxed more, and those who are engaged in philanthropy, like Bill Gates, should be taxed at a significantly lower rate.
For his part, Piketty seems to concede that Gates is perhaps more efficient than the government… at least sometimes.
Piketty recently made the news in France as well, when he refused to accept the Legion d’honneur, France’s highest decoration. Piketty told the press that the government would “do better to concentrate on reviving growth,” instead of handing out awards.
Mr. Gates has become a supporter of numerous causes in the U.S., including gun control and immigration reform. Although the debate on raising or reforming the capital gains tax seems muted for the time being, Bill Gates has already staked out his position on the issue.
[Image Credit: World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons]